Art Movement

A new art professor creates landscapes that aren’t frozen in their frames.

Lee Arnold can’t make up his mind. Good thing too. The assistant professor of art pulls from an unexpected mix of inspirations—try Swiss mountain peaks, science fiction films and the Brothers Grimm, for starters—to create ethereal, abstract video art. One of his works, “Alpinia,” swiftly unfurls a panorama of brightly colored triangles that multiply, each row growing ever and ever higher, creating a multidimensional landscape. “The first time I saw ‘Alpinia,’ it struck me that I’d never seen anything quite like it,” says Philadelphia art journalist and blogger Roberta Fallon. “The piece is almost completely abstract. But with minor-key music, ambiguous sounds of children laughing and screaming and camera angles that put you into the space, the piece becomes a moody, dreamy fairy tale narrative with no outcome.”

Arnold, who joined the faculty last fall after teaching at Drexel, cites French New Wave cinema as a powerful influence. “Black-and-white film is an abstraction. It’s not real; it’s removed from reality, and something about that resonates with me,” Arnold says. “I find it very beautiful.” Many of his works grow out of that sensibility, such as “S-Bahn,” a revealing view of a changing Berlin through a train window. “I think all [my] work walks the line between abstraction and representation; I like that line,” Arnold says. “It alludes to a lot of things, but it can’t be reduced to one thing.”

View Arnold’s art at his personal site.

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